Quarterly Newsletter

Study Shows Consumers May Be Making ID Theft Easier [Privacy]

Are you making ID theft easier?

A new study by Experian shows that although consumers are concerned about the security of their personal information, a majority underestimate their risk of identity theft. They fail to take action to protect themselves because they believe they will not be a target or it is too much of a hassle to constantly worry about securing their personal information, leaving themselves vulnerable.

Although most survey respondents said they felt very or somewhat informed about identity theft and fraud and how to protect their personal information, many of them hold incorrect beliefs about the dangers of identity theft. For example, 66 percent believe that the risk of identity theft diminishes over time after personal information is stolen.

Many believe they are unlikely to become victims of identity theft because they don’t make enough money. Seventy-two percent think that fraudsters are only interested in stealing the identities of wealthy people. And more than half (53%) falsely believe they do not have to worry about identity theft because the banks and credit card companies monitor their accounts.

While most respondents were aware of some of the ways identity theft can occur, such as data breaches (85%) and phishing (76%), only 60 percent were aware that criminals also commit identity theft by going through trash and mail.

The survey showed that even though survey respondents were aware that online activities could make them vulnerable to identity theft, many of them still engage in risky behaviors such as:

  • Using public WiFi to shop online (43%)
  • Sharing account usernames and passwords with others (33%)
  • Sharing mobile device passwords (29%)
  • Sharing credit card numbers or associated PINs (25%)
  • Allowing someone to use their personal information to get a job or credit (20%)

There was good news in the survey, too. Positive steps taken by respondents include:

  • Always or often using unique passwords for different online accounts (58%)
  • Always or often changing and rotating passwords for online accounts (46%)
  • Managing privacy settings for online accounts and mobile apps (44%)
  • Always or often reviewing privacy policies for online accounts or mobile apps (31%)
  • Never sharing credit card numbers or associated PINs (75%)
  • Never sharing their mobile device passwords (71%)
  • Never sharing usernames or passwords for online accounts (67%)
  • Never engaging in online shopping when using public WiFi (57%)

“Understanding the risks, being aware of the dark web, and researching what can help monitor and mitigate fraud aren’t optional these days. Unfortunately, the survey suggests consumers don’t consider these necessities a priority, which makes life easier for fraudsters,” according to Michael Bruemmer, vice president of identity protection at Experian.